Consumer confidence at record low for nation


Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:14 p.m.

NEW YORK -- This is one recession Americans aren't going to spend their way out of.

The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index edged down to 37.7 this month, a record low, from a revised 38.6 in December. It stood at about 87 just a year ago.

Americans are battered by headlines about massive job cuts, including thousands at Home Depot, Corning, General Motors and Caterpillar in just the past two days, and are still watching the values of their homes and retirement funds dwindle.

"Virtually, there is no confidence out there," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group LLC. "Household anxiety has reached a point that we can count them out to get us out of the recession."

Economists believe Americans will remain in a financial funk until they start seeing fundamental improvements in the economy, including a turnaround in the housing and job markets. And two other reports Tuesday suggested that's unlikely to come soon.

The Labor Department announced that state unemployment rates shot up nationwide in December, with Indiana and South Carolina racking up the largest monthly increases. South Carolina's jobless rate bolted to 9.5 percent, more than 2 percentage points above the national rate.

And the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city housing index dropped by a record 18.2 percent in November.

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